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That resilience suggests that the direct impacts humans have had on the small animals’ habitats—through increasing pastureland or spreading invasive plants—are the driving force behind the recently unbalanced system, independent of climate change.
While having the community thrown out of its previous balance may mean the rodents will be less able to cope with manmade climate change, addressing those more local, human impacts is perhaps an easier challenge in the short term than dealing with climate change, Terry says. “Perhaps it means we can make a quicker difference in repairing the system just by focusing on habitat restoration. Maybe that’s a silver lining to all of this.”